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RATEN Institute engineers and NNSA experts observe process to safely remove high-activity radioactive sources prior to disposal.
RATEN Institute engineers and NNSA experts observe the process to safely remove high-activity radioactive sources prior to disposal.

NNSA and the Romanian National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control (CNCAN) commemorated a decade of radiological security work this week in Romania.

The partnership has resulted in security enhancements to buildings containing radioactive sources throughout Romania, including at medical facilities and the Institute for Nuclear Research (RATEN Institute). Physical protection systems at the sites make radiological material less vulnerable to theft, particularly material that could be used to create a radioactive dispersal device, or “dirty bomb.” 

“These security enhancement activities support NNSA’s ongoing efforts to accelerate and strengthen radiological material protection worldwide,” said Dave Huizenga, Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “Romania is a key partner and advocate for radiological security in the region. Their effort to reduce the risk of radiological terrorism is commendable.” 

Recently, NNSA’s Office of Radiological Security partnered with CNCAN to add another layer of security enhancements by installing In-Device Delay (IDD) kits. These kits, which are installed on the devices housing radioactive sources, delay illegal tampering of the sealed sources. This allows additional time for law enforcement to respond.

The sites with enhanced security and IDD kits will be integrated into the Romanian Gendarmerie’s National Monitoring Center, which facilitates timely response to a potential radioactive material theft.

The Romanian Gendarmerie supports CNCAN’s implementation of vital site security inspections to ensure facility compliance and readiness. Additionally, they support CNCAN with transportation security for radioactive materials.

NNSA’s partnership with CNCAN also included a vehicle tracking system. The transport equipment is versatile and can provide CNCAN, local emergency response, and the Romanian Gendarmerie with the ability to receive tracking and security alerts for radioactive materials in transit.

Additionally, NNSA and Romania are collaborating to remove disused radioactive sources. In 2016, personnel from the RATEN Institute completed NNSA-led training for the safe removal and temporary storage of high-activity cobalt-60 sources prior to disposal.

Based on this training, the RATEN Institute has safely moved five disused radioactive sources to secure storage, reducing the likelihood of a theft and use in a radiological dispersal device. The removal work also supports the Romanian adoption of new non-radioisotopic linear accelerators in hospitals throughout the country. Combined, these efforts permanently reduce the risk of radioactive materials from falling into the wrong hands.